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How-To Copy Files from iPod to Hard Drive

written by: Brian Nelson•edited by: Simon Hill•updated: 11/15/2010

Want to copy files from an iPod to your hard drive? It isn't hard once you know what to do and how to get it set up.

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    Enable Copying Files from iPods To Computers

    One of the most common things users of iPods want is the ability to copy the files on the iPod to a computer. There are plenty of reasons that someone would want to do this. For example, a user may want to copy the music library on an iPod to their laptop, or maybe to their work computer. Of course, Apple's iTunes software doesn't make this process obvious in order to keep the music industry happy, but that doesn't mean it cannot be done.

    There are a lot of third-party utilities and other software programs that offer the ability to copy files from your iPod to a hard disk, but you really don't need them, and you certainly don't need to pay for one. All you need is a quick crash course in how the iPod stores files and how to get it to listen to you.

    ipod The first step to easy copying of files on an iPod to a hard drive is to set the iPod into disk mode. Once configured to be used as a disk, files can be copied to and from an iPod as easily as they can be copied from a USB drive.

    Using iTunes to change an iPod into disk mode is easy. First, connect your iPod to its home computer like you usually do. If iTunes doesn't start automatically, go ahead and launch it.

    Once iTunes is running, click on the iPod logo under the Devices setting. Be sure the "Summary" tab is selected and under Options select "Enable disk use."

    You can also select "Manually manage music and videos." However, this setting also disables automatic updates of music and video files on the device. If that is your intention, then select this choice. If you just want to be able to copy files but keep the automatic update feature, then choose Enable disk use instead.

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    Copy Files from iPod To Hard Drives

    Once your iPod has been enabled for disk access, copying files from an iPod to a computer is surprisingly easy.

    The iPod will now show up as a removable disk on the desktop and also in Finder windows on Mac computers. On Windows based computers, the device will show up as a removable drive in My Computer or Windows Explorer.

    At this point, files can be copied from the iPod to your hard disk in the same way as files from any other removable drive such as a USB stick hard drive. If you are having problems with iTunes on Windows 7 this article can help.

    Even though having disk access to your iPod will allow you to copy files to your iPod manually as well, this is not advised unless you have an in-depth understanding of the directory structure of music and video stored on your iPod. Files are stored on the iPod in a very specific manner and manually moving, deleting, or adding files can mess up this structure and cause problems. Stick with the standard synchronization mode to put files onto your iPod.

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    Copy Music Purchased From iTunes from iPod To Hard Drive

    Keep in mind that if you have purchased copy protect music from iTunes, the copy protection will not allow for those files to be copied or played on another computer unless that computer has been "authorized" by Apple via the iTunes system. Copying those files to your computer or breaking the copy protection on them is a violation of the iTunes terms of use.

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